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Boxpark secures planning permission for Wembley site

Boxpark and Quintain has secured planning permission for the largest Boxpark scheme to date in London’s Wembley Park.

Set to open in late 2018, Boxpark Wembley will be positioned in the heart of Wembley Park directly on Olympic Way, as part of a 500,000 square foot retail and leisure space transforming the area.

Unlike its Shoreditch sister site, Boxpark Wembley won’t be featuring fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands, instead it will house 27 food and beverage operators, a 20,000 square foot dedicated events space and 300 capacity venue.

Boxpark Wembley unit sizes will range from 500 square foot to 1,800 square foot, with the line-up of tenants expected to be announced in the coming months, ahead of the opening in autumn 2018.

Speaking about the submission, James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer of Quintain (delivering Wembley Park), said: “We’re thrilled to be able to say that Boxpark is now officially coming to Wembley Park. The opening will mark as huge step change in the transformation for the area, adding to the growing offer of shops, homes and activity already here.

“Set to open later this year, Boxpark Wembley will be a new destination for local people and the growing number of visitors to the area, to experience some of the best street food London has to offer. Boxpark is officially coming home, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Roger Wade, founder and chief executive of Boxpark added: “I’m delighted that the Boxpark Wembley planning has been approved. We are looking forward to working closely with our Development Partner Quintain, Brent Council and Wembley Park stakeholders Wembley Stadium, SSE Arena and LDO to deliver a world class fan village and street food destination.”

Image: courtesy of Boxpark

Paul Smith store to open at London’s King’s Cross

The King’s Cross Partnership and Paul Smith have announced that the British designer will open a new store at Coal Drops Yard, the Heatherwick Studio-designed shopping quarter in London’s King’s Cross, in October 2018, as part of the brand’s global expansion plans.

Commenting on the new store set to open in London, Paul Smith said: “As a man who’s travelled in and out of King’s Cross and St Pancras for many years and seen it change from a very run-down and sad area to become a vibrant and beautifully restored part of the city, it’s with great excitement that I’m opening a new shop there later in the year.”

Following the tradition of giving an exclusive touch to his every store, Paul Smith’s in-house team of architects will work on this new store as well reflecting its surroundings. The shop design at Coal Drops Yard, the company said in a statement, will be a juxtaposition of modern features with the listed architecture where the vaulted brick ceiling and walls will be retained. A room for men’s suiting will be covered in thousands of Japanese 1 yen coins, hinting at Smith’s long-standing relationship with Japan. Linking the rear room to the women’s room will be a blue tunnel with a rubberised playground floor.

The rear room will reflect his history as a shopkeeper in Nottingham when he would change his shop stock regularly, bringing back unusual objects such as toys from his travels around the world. This space, the company added, will feature a rotation of store concepts, from the exclusive Japanese Red Ear collection, to product launches linked with events in the city such as Design Week and Frieze, creating a contemporary version of a local shop.

Picture credit: Paul Smith website

London Designers Collective to host London Style Week Concept Store

London - The London Designers Collective (LDC) is set to return to London Style Week this season with a new concept store dedicated to promoting independent designers and support women in business through a female empowerment networking event.

Taking place during the official London Style Week calendar, running from February 16 to 20, LDC will showcase up and coming designers in its co-curated concept store located in the heart of Covent Garden. The concept store will feature a number of public live presentations, featuring new and unseen collections as well as a pop-up spa and a series of engaging events.

London Designers Collective to host London Style Week Concept Store

The pop-up concept store marks the third LFW event from LDC, who aim to unite independent designers by creating a resource sharing community. The concept store will be manned by the designers themselves, offering customers the opportunity to meet with the people behind the brand and product. In addition, as a female-founded community which supports mostly female designers, LCD aims to empower women in the fashion business, by giving them a platform to showcase their products and exchange information with each other.

London Designers Collective to host London Style Week Concept Store

In order to celebrate this, LDC is set to host its first networking event for female empoweres and entrepreneurs this London Style Week. Taking place at its Covent Garden store on February 19, the event is set to welcome a number of guest speakers, including Life & Business Coach Mikaela Jackson from She Almighty, Kubi Springer CEO & Founder of SheBuildsBrands Agency, Mentor MatcHer founder Mariam Mola, and Maya Gura, CEO & Co-founder of mobile spa company Missbeez. The empowering networking event will run alongside the concept store.

Photos: Courtesy of LDC

Burberry teams up with Farfetch for global partnership

London - Burberry has launched a new global partnership with luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch, to further expand the British fashion house's international distribution to 150 countries.

The new partnership sees Burberry's technology integrated into the Farfetch API, the platform's operating system so that its entire global inventory will be available through Farfetch's online platform. This integration will strengthen and expand Burberry's current distribution system globally, allowing the luxury fashion house to access more than 150 countries online.

In order to ensure Burberry's brand presence is preserved on Farfetch's platform, the luxury British fashion house is set to work closely alongside the e-commerce platform. Farfetch and Burberry are keen to ensure that the latter's appearance contains a "consistent and curated digital experience" that is reflective of Burberry.

Burberry launches global partnership with Farfetch to reach 150 countries

"We are thrilled about our partnership with Farfetch. Burberry has led the way in digital and this is a natural and significant evolution for us as we seek to reach a young fashion-conscious consumer," said Daniel Heaf, SVP Digital Commerce & Digital Marketing at Burberry in a statement. "We want the digital expression of our brand to represent the very best in brand and product storytelling whether on our own platforms or through our partners, and Farfetch customers globally can now access the full Burberry offer."

Burberry teams up with Farfetch for global partnership

The new partnership will also enable Burberry to deepen its relationships with other existing e-commerce partners, as it will pave the way for greater levels of "depth, flexibility and transparency" of Burberry's online inventory and let it reach a bigger cohort of customers."We’re so pleased to welcome Burberry to Farfetch as a direct brand partner," added Giorgio Belloli, Chief Commerical Officer at Farfetch. "Our customers around the world love the brand, and working together means we can make sure lovers of fashion can have access to the greatest selection of Burberry products wherever they are in the world."

To mark the launch of the new partnership, Burberry is set to run a "show to door" delivery service from Farfetch for 24 hours following its February 2018 London Style Week show this weekend. A capsule collection of re-issued pieces from the brand's archive and three tote bags will be re-released as part of the runway collection immediately following the show. Burberry's February 2018 show will feature the Rainbow check, the latest re-iteration of the fashion house's symbol. The London Style Week show is set to be the final collection presentation from outgoing president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, who will be leaving the company by the end of this year.

Photos: Courtesy of Burberry

Uniqlo to open first flagship store in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

London - Fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo is set to open its first store in The Netherlands this autumn. Located in the former Forever 21 flagship store op the Kalverstraat , the debut Dutch store from the Japanese apparel retailer will span 2,040 square meters and offers Uniqlo’s LifeWear for women, men and children.

Spanning three floors, the new store will also feature a dedicated floor for Uniqlo’s UT-collection as well. Following the new flagship store opening in Amsterdam, the store will be the largest Uniqlo store in the Benelux, as well as one of the largest stores from the retailer in Europe. “We are very enthusiastic to open the first Uniqlo store in the Netherlands and to introduce our brand in Amsterdam, a city which is known for its relaxed and casual lifestyle,” said Taku Morikawa, Uniqlo Chief Executive Officer, Europe in a statement.

“I believe that our LifeWear, designed around core items such as denim, ultra light down outerwear, extra fine merino knitwear and more, will be a perfect match for locals, every season of the year. With our entry in the Netherlands, we are taking the next step in our plans to expand our presence in the Benelux,” he added. Uniqlo aims to open its new flagship in Amsterdam sometime in autumn 2018. An exact opening date has yet to be confirmed.

Photo: Courtesy of Uniqlo

London Bridge rail station is set to welcome a wave of new fashion and luxury retailers as part of its 1 billion redevelopment, which will see the London station having more retail units than any other Network Rail station in the country.

Cath Kidston and Hamleys will open their doors at London Bridge station this month, with Ted Baker, Mac, Rituals and The Body Shop all set to join them in the spring, as Network Rail aims to create a flagship destination where people can “shop, meet, eat, socialise and travel”.

Ray Kelvin, chief executive and founder of Ted Baker, said: “London has always been close to Ted’s heart; it’s his home town, he knows it like the back of his hand, and it’s where he gets his best inspiration. Given his love of travel – by train in particular – Ted’s been following the development of the new London Bridge station complex closely, even before the success of the new St. Pancras store that opened last summer.

“It’s only a few months until the store opens with a hand-selected edit of the men’s and womenswear collections, but I can’t hold Ted back – he’s getting really excited about the opportunities there.”

Sue Carvell, commercial director at Cath Kidston, added: “We have seen great success in our store at St Pancras station, and look forward to bringing our brand to this exciting new development too.

“London Bridge station is a prime location, ideal to offer a convenient shopping experience for our travelling customers. We feel our modern vintage offering will fit nicely with the exciting list of other brands confirmed for this new shopping hub.”

The news follows the recent launch of free Wi-Fi at the station as Network Rail looks to focus on the customer experience.

Hamish Kiernan, commercial director of retail for Network Rail property, said: “The transformation of London Bridge station is one of the most ambitious projects that Network Rail has undertaken. It gives us the opportunity to use our expertise to create a great environment and produce a retail offer that exceeds people’s expectations.

“We understand that stations, large and small, and their surrounding areas are increasingly becoming the hubs of modern local communities. As such we’re working exceptionally hard to bring in established, quality brands and create a diverse and eclectic mix of retailers, food and beverage outlets, and places for entertainment.”

The one billion redevelopment of London Bridge station, part of the Thameslink Programme, includes a range of improvements such as a new concourse, modern facilities, two new entrances on Tooley Street, and 15 fully accessible platforms. It also includes the opening up of 92,000 square foot of new retail space and more than 70 retail units – the most ever in a Network Rail station.

The Government is calling on British retailers to sign up to the Disability Confident scheme, which aims to showcase the benefits of employing disabled people.

First launched in November 2016, the Disability Confident scheme provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence they need to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees, and was developed with employers, disability charities, and disabled people.

The call for action comes as the Government reveals that there are around 123,000 vacancies in the retail and wholesale industry and the government’s ambition is to see one million more disable people in work by 2027, and states that there is “huge potential” for the retail and wholesale sector.

Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, health and work, said: “Disabled people can bring a wealth of talent and different perspectives to an organisation, and I want to encourage more retailers to make sure they’re not missing out on this huge untapped pool of talent.

“We’ve made progress, but I want more retailers to sign up to improve equality of opportunity in this thriving sector and give more disabled people the chance of a fulfilling career.”

The new campaign is being spearheaded by retail leaders, including the British Retail Consortium, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and the Post Office.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium added: “The retail industry wants to be a diversity and inclusion leader in order to harness the talents of the whole labour market. Disability Confident is an incredibly useful scheme that provides practical support to enable retailers to recruit and retain colleagues with disabilities.

“As a Disability Confident employer ourselves, along with some of our members, we look forward to working with the government to drive awareness of the scheme and increase the number of Disability Confident employers from across the retail industry.”

A fall in spending and increased costs is taking a toll on traditional retailers, with 19 percent of fashion retailers showing signs of financial distress, according to research from accountancy firm Moore Stephens.

Out of 35,078 fashion retailers analysed, 6,580 are exhibiting early warning signs that they are at risk of going insolvent, such as reporting large falls in revenue and poor payment history, which has led to retailers to either lowering profit margins or raising prices.

Falling consumer spending and increased payroll costs have compounded the pressure fashion retailers have felt from the increased dominance of online retailers, states Moore Stephens.

According to the report, fashion retailers have been hit by falling consumer spending, which was revealed to have hit its lowest level in five years in 2017, with pressure continuing to come from online retailers, as online spending currently makes up a greater proportion of consumer spending than ever before.

Other elements that have made it a challenge for fashion retailers with physical stores have been rising business rates, import costs and an increase in staff costs after the introduction of the National Living Wage.

Jeremy Willmont, head of restructuring and insolvency at Moore Stephens said: “Clothing retailers have faced some of the most difficult trading conditions since the recession in the past year. They have been hit by the perfect storm of rising costs, falling consumer spending and increased competition. All three have heaped pressure onto revenue and made profit margins difficult to maintain.

“The increasing popularity of online-only retailers, who have more manageable bills for business rates and lower payroll, means that many fashion retailers will need to improve their ‘bricks and clicks’ offering if they are to thrive. Businesses that are able to adapt to changing trends and preferences will put themselves in a much better position to not only avoid insolvency, but to flourish.”

Last month, East were the latest high profile fashion retailer to enter insolvency, following on from Jaeger and Store Twenty One in the past 12 months. While other fashion retailers including Debenhams was forced to issue a profits warning after poor Christmas trading and House of Fraser has entered negotiations on store rents in an attempt to reduce their costs.

River Island opens first standalone kidswear store​​ in Glasgow

River Island has opened its first standalone kidswear store at intu Braehead in Glasgow ahead of its national rollout. The new store officially opened its doors earlier this month and features River Island’s Kids and Mini collection for babies and children up to 12 years of age.

Spanning 3,000 square feet the new store is located nearby one of River Island’s strongest performing regional stores. The new store offers all of River Islands baby, toddler and children’s wear collections, including its recently launched gender-neutral kidswear line. The store opening comes ahead of River Island's national rollout of dedicated kidswear stores across the UK.

River Island opens first standalone kidswear store​​ in Glasgow

“River Island came to us last year on plans for the first River Island Kids in the UK and we’ve been working with them closely to launch this exciting new store at intu Braehead,” said Kate Grant, regional managing director at intu in a statement. “intu Braehead is the perfect location to introduce this new concept to British shoppers for the first time thanks to its high annual footfall and expansive leisure offer which creates compelling experiences for thousands of families every year.”

Photos: Courtesy of River Island and intu

UK Retailers: The Winners & Losers of Christmas 2017

REPORT London - The holiday season is traditionally a key moment retailers look forward to help drive sales and provide a festive boost to their end of year results. However, with increasing pressure on household budgets and waning consumer confidence, which UK retailers successfully managed to hit their Christmas targets this year and win over consumer spend? GlobalData shares its take on the UK Christmas retailers winners and losers for 2017.

Christmas Winners: Asos, Boohoo.com and Quiz

When it comes to online shopping, no other pure player does it quite like Asos. The British fashion etailer reported stellar Christmas trading results, with sales growing 30 percent during the last quarter of the year as consumers were drawn in by its wide product range, and swift delivery services. However other online retailers, such as Boohoo.com and Quiz also delivered standout performances this Christmas. All three online retailers used the power of social media to reach out to their target audience, with effective results.

Boohoo.com saw revenues increase 25 percent for the four months which ended December 31, 2017 and record sales across all its brands for the Christmas trading season, while Quiz saw a strong performance over the Christmas period, in line with its expectations for the quarter. “With a clear understanding of their target customers and ability to capitalise on demand for stylish, trend-led products and demand for convenient delivery options, it is unsurprising that these retailers performed so well,” commented Sarah Johns, Retail Analyst at GlobalData in a statement.

UK Retailers: The Winners & Losers of Christmas 2017

Christmas Losers: House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Mothercare

In contrast to the strong Christmas trading results seen by pure players, UK department stores general underperformed this Christmas season. In particular, traditional mid market department stores House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer reported disappointing trading results, with the former reporting a 2.9 percent decline in Christmas sales and the latter a 2.3 percent decline in clothing and home sales in the UK to December 30, 2017.

Rival Debenhams did not fare much better, having somewhat failed to excite consumers and differentiate itself from its peers on the high street. Like-for-like sales dropped 1.3 percent during the key Christmas trading period, as Debenhams tactical promotional campaign failed to attract sufficient attention. ‘‘What is certain is that investing in multichannel is vital to long-term survival as shopper reluctance to visit department stores takes its toll and shoppers increasingly turn to buying online,” added Johns.

However, it was not just department stores that had it tough this Christmas, as a 7.2 percent and 6.9 percent drop in like-for-like and online sales at Mothercare made it one of the worst performing players in retail this Christmas. ‘‘While Mothercare was not alone in reporting negative online sales (House of Fraser’s was down 7.5 percent), it is disappointing that e-commerce sales fell so sharply when growth in online retail spending grew 7.6% in 2017 and so many other retailers reported double-digit growth in this channel.’’

Photo 1: by Cristiano Betta, via Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

Photo 2: by Simeon87 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons